Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
Nashville came into Thursday night’s game riding high on a three-game winning streak, making up for the ground they lost on their last road trip. After Phoenix allowed a goal in the final minute of play against Minnesota last night and lost eventually in overtime, they would bring a seven-game losing streak into Nashville on the tail end of a back-to-back.
It looked like seven games was the breaking point for the Coyotes.
Nashville allowed six goals in the first en route to a 7-4 loss in front of another sold out crowd at Bridgestone Arena. Both teams combined for 9 goals scored by both teams in a period at home for the Predators.
What started as just another game, a milestone for former Predators forward Steve Sullivan as well, saw the Coyotes nearly get the first goal only ten seconds in from Sullivan himself, however it would only take 1:46 for Phoenix to break through and get the 1-0 lead.
Phoenix would make it 2-0 two minutes later, which prompted head coach Barry Trotz to go ahead and take his team-allotted time out. Even with the break in action to calm down his players, the Coyotes would score eight seconds later to make it 3-0.
“[We had to] wake up, get engaged, get physical, hit someone, do something. Obviously they scored right away on the next shift,” said Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber on what head coach Barry Trotz told the team during the timeout.
By the 8:26 mark of the first, it was already 5-0 in favor of Phoenix. If that wasn’t crazy enough, both teams would exchange four more goals over the remainder of the period to end the first twenty minutes with a score of 6-3 in favor of the Coyotes.
“I don’t know, we better be angry, because that’s pretty embarrassing in your own building,” said Weber. “I think guys did show a lot of character in battling even though we were down 5-0. We tried to get back in it, guys were still blocking shots. The start, though, is definitely unacceptable”
From there, Nashville and Phoenix would exchange defense rather than the offense that spectacularly led the first period. A goal by the Coyotes 2:44 into the second period seemed to take all of the remaining wind out of Nashville’s sails for the rest of the period, as the proverbial nail was in the coffin, even though they were now down by four goals.
“We made a conscious effort, we all talked in here about it. We talked about everything. When it comes down to it, we just have to do it. We’ve had enough meetings this year, we’ve just got to do it,” said Weber.
While the Predators put 38 shots on Coyotes goaltender Jason LaBarbera tonight, they couldn’t get any closer than a three-goal deficit to Phoenix. Nashville’s three-game win streak ended on a sour note and they now find themselves having played the most games in the Western Conference and still outside the top eight in search for a playoff berth.
“I’ll say this to you, it doesn’t feel very good right now and if I was smart I’d want to let it go so we can put all of our focus on the Colorado Avalanche game, so we can wipe this free. That’s my answer, I don’t want to dwell on this, I’m embarrassed by it and I can’t remember being down five goals so quickly,” said Trotz. “As a group, we should be embarrassed, we have a lot more pride than that. We’re going to go forward, we have to to, we have no choice. This game is done, it was a game we blew early and we’ll just go forward. That’s all we can do.”
Nashville takes on Colorado twice (starting on Saturday), Chicago three times, and Columbus once over their next six games. The loss tonight hurts their position in the standings, but unless they quickly shake the after effects off before Saturday afternoons tilt versus the Avalanche, they could find their season slowly coming to a tough and unfortunate end.